Our Switzerland trip over Easter 2016

Lucerne bridge day 1

Gambit and I travelled to Switzerland over Easter and it was a spectacular trip. We flew into Zurich and utilized the amazing railway network offered to see Zermatt and Lucerne.

Flight to Zurich
NYC to Zurich

Day 1 – March 24

We landed in Zurich and immediately purchased the Swiss Rail Pass. I opted for the one that entitled us to consecutive days travel instead of the Swiss Travel Pass Flex because I had calculated that we would be doing our longest (and most expensive trips) early on in the trip.

Swiss Travel Pass

To summarize how the Swiss Rail Pass works:

  • you purchase the pass and you must provide your name and passport details (it is only available to International travelers)
  • you locate which train / boat / bus is included in the network (a lot of them)
  • you hop on (no booking necessary) and enjoy the ride.

It really is that simple. And the pass entitles you to 50% off some cables like Mt Titlis.

For those interested in the maths – below are my calculations in Swiss francs (at the time of travel the Swiss franc was on parity with the USD)

Train trips: Full price 3 day flex pass 4 day pass 8 day pass
24-Mar Zurich airport to Zermatt 126 239 (cost of pass)

Day’s trip = 0 – using a flex day #1

251 (cost of pass)

Day’s trip = 0

363 (cost of pass)
25-Mar Zermatt to Lucerne 115 0 – using a flex day #2 0 0
26-Mar Lucerne – Mt Titlis 160.2

(Train + cable)

160.2

(Train + cable)

44.5

The train trip is inc, so we’d only pay 50% of the cable

44.5
27-Mar Lucerne – Mt Rigi 110 0 – using a flex day #3 0 0
28-Mar Lucerne to Zurich 25 25 25 0
30-Mar Zurich to Zurich airport 6.6 6.6 6.6 0
542.8 485.60 327.1 407.5

We caught a morning train (approx. 10am) and was in Zermatt just after 1pm.

Train

We checked into our hotel for the one night – the Hotel Bistol – which had a great location and although small, was perfect for the one night’s stay. When we opened our curtains – the Matterhorn was there – standing in all its glory. We were so lucky to have such great weather so that it wasn’t hidden behind any clouds.

View from hotel room day 1

View from hotel room

After lunch at Fuchs bakery we went for a nice long walk.

Part of my lunch
Part of my lunch
Matterhorn trek
View of the Matterhorn while out on our walk

Matterhorn trek view

For dinner we went to the Swiss Chalet for authentic cheese fondue and chocolate fondue. And then we called it a night and had a lovely deep sleep.

Swiss Chalet dinner
At the Swiss Chalet for dinner
Dinner - meat
Starter: meat
Dinner - cheese fondue
Cheese Fondue
Dessert - chocolate fondue
Chocolate Fondue

Day 2 – March 25

After having breakfast (included in the price of the hotel) we went for a walk around Zermatt before boarding a train to Lucerne.

We decided against taking the Gornergrat rail because the clouds had appeared and the Matterhorn had gone into hiding. The rail was not included and we would’ve had to pay 50% and it would’ve cost 43 CHF.

The train ride to Lucerne went smoothly. We had to change in Bern so decided to pop off and have a look at the town before boarding the next train to Lucerne.

It was rainy, it was Easter / Good Friday and therefore all the retail shops were closed and only some places to eat were opened. We popped into a bakery and had a bite to eat before making the next train.

Bern 1 Bern 4 Bern 3 Bern 2Bern lunch
Once we arrived in Lucerne, we checked into the Renaissance Lucerne Hotel and headed out for a walk and to find a place to eat dinner – most shops were also closed so the town felt quite empty.We walked around the beautiful old town with its cobble stone streets and ended up going to dinner at Fritschi.

 

Lucerne dinner Lucerne bridge Lucerne bridge day 1 night 5 Lucerne bridge day 1 night 2 Lucerne bridge day 1 night 3 Lucerne bridge day 1 night 4Lucerne bridge day 1 night

Day 3 – March 26

We made our way out to Mt Titlis and it being Easter Saturday, it was very busy and we had to wait in line for a long time for the cable. The train to Engleberg, where we would then take the cable was pleasant and on time.

Mt Titlis cable Mt Titlis Mt Titlis 2

Once we got to the top of Mt Titlis, the views were breathtaking and again, we were so lucky because the weather was kind to us.

Mt Titlis view 2 Mt Titlis view 1 Mt Titlis skiing Mt Titlis cable up 1 We walked the Mt Titlis Cliff walk and through the Glacier Cave.

Titlis Cliff Walk

Mt Titlis Cliff walk 1 Mt Titlis Cliff walk 2

Glacier cave

We spent a good few hours wondering around Mt Titlis before heading back to Lucerne. But before we did so, we stopped off at one of the bar/restaurants so Gambit could have a beer.

Beer up Mt Titlis

That night we found a nice pizza pasta spot close to the hotel.

Day 4 – March 27

The day was Easter Sunday and we decided to take advantage of the included trip with our railway pass (it was the last day we could use it) to Mt Rigi. It included a boat from Lucerne to Vitznau and then up to Mt Rigi via cogwheel train.

Mt Rigi Lake boat

Mt Rigi cogwheel cart

All I can remember about the day was it was cold but we still decided to sit in the outside area on the boat (to start with) and when we reached Mt Rigi, we could hardly see 10 meters ahead.

View from cogwheel up to Mt Rigi Mt Rigi sign up top Mt Rigi cogwheel

Obviously we didn’t stay up there very long and caught the next cogwheel to take us to Arth-Goldau where we would take the train back to Lucerne.

View down from Mt Rigi

We walked around Lucerne using a self-guided walking itinerary I found online and ticked off all the must-see places, which included the Lion Monument.

Lion monument closer Lion monument Lucerne - old town day 2 Lucerne along the water Lucerne bridge day 2 brighter Lucerne bridge day 2 Lucerne old town day 2

Day 5 – March 28

We left Lucerne and headed to Zurich by train.

I was able to get a half-fare by travelling at certain times and buying it online – so didn’t have to pay the full price.

When we arrived we checked into the Townhouse Boutique Hotel. Our room was an utter disappointment – besides the hotel’s location which was superb – I was really unhappy we would have to stay there for two nights.

Here are some photos of the bathroom and the floor of our room to show just how unclean it was. If only I could capture the smell of the bathroom and put it on here… I could describe it but you may lose your breakfast.

Awful hotel 4

Awful hotel 1 Awful hotel 2 Awful hotel 3

It was Easter Monday and again most of the shops were closed, so Gambit and I decided to go for a walk around town and check out what Zurich had to offer. The Zurich old town was lovely, again with cobble stone streets and cute little stores (mostly all closed).

Steps in Zurich old town

Old Town Zurich

Around Old Town Zurich

Day 6 – March 29

We took it easy on Monday, walking the old town and using a self-guided walk itinerary I found off the internet. The main place I wanted to visit was the Sprungli café.

Zeughaskeller Lunch

At night we met up with one of Gambit’s friends and we went out to dinner with him to a place called the Oepfelchammer which I think translates to apple chamber – which is what it used to be. The restaurant had only two other customers and a few in the pub area before the restaurant seating area. The food was lovely. Especially the dessert.

Apple chamber Dessert Wine bar 1 Wine bar 2 Wine bar 3

The pub area has its own rules and they are listed on a sheet which you can read before entering.

Day 7 – March 30

The last day of our trip was pretty uneventful.  We left our hotel (yay!) for the airport in the late morning and flew home to NYC.

Overall the trip was excellent.

I was extremely impressed with the rail network – how clean the trains and platforms were and how they actually ran on time.

The Swiss Travel Pass is something I would highly recommend anyone wanting to travel around Switzerland to purchase.

The other thing is, I would highly recommend that if you are flying into Zurich and are staying for more than 2-3 days to get out of Zurich and go see the alps.  They are breathtaking and hopefully, you’ll get a good day where you can actually see from the top!

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